HOUSTON -- Inside 24 hours before Wednesday’s 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline, the Astros remain in pursuit of a starting pitcher to join in their rotation. Among the names to emerge prominently on Tuesday is Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, who is a target of Houston's according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
Wheeler (7-6, 4.71 ERA in 20 starts) is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, which means the Astros could get him for less prospect collateral than a player who’s under club control for multiple years.
The Astros have also been linked to left-handers Robbie Ray of the D-backs and Matthew Boyd of the Tigers in recent days. Reports on Tuesday also linked Houston to Noah Syndergaard of the Mets and Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, although those two hurlers might not be traded.
While the clubhouse was buzzing with rumors ahead of Tuesday’s series opener at Progressive Field, Astros manager AJ Hinch said his players are pretty good about focusing on the game at hand.
“There’s a lot of talk going on, there’s a lot of action,” Hinch said. “I try to encourage our guys to not read too much into it. So many different people have access to so much different information, so stay patient and see what happens. … We try to keep our 25 guys inside extremely close, and the Deadline anxiety and the Deadline stress is real.
“I get a ton of questions. People see when my office door is open, or is it closed? Am I on the phone? Am I not on the phone? Chances are I’m working on the Indians and trying to set ourselves up to beat these guys. The transactions that may or may not happen, we’ll all find out around the same time.”
There is a growing likelihood the Astros will be able to get a deal done to fortify their starting rotation behind Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley. Houston is currently using a four-man rotation -- rookie Jose Urquidy will start Wednesday -- but the Astros will need a fifth starter again on Saturday for the first time since the All-Star break.
Marisnick to sit first two vs. Tribe
After losing the appeal of his two-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball on July 11, Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick was forced to sit out the first two games of the series against the Indians on Tuesday and Wednesday. Houston will play with 24 players on its active roster until Marisnick can be reinstated for Thursday’s series finale.
Marisnick was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended after he collided with Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy at home plate on July 7 in Houston. Marisnick maintained he did not intentionally initiate contact with Lucroy in a violent collision that resulted in a concussion and a fractured nose for the Angels' catcher. Lucroy is scheduled to be activated on Wednesday.
“They made their decision, and I’m going to serve the suspension,” Marisnick said. “I respect the decision, and I’ve got to move past it and move forward with the season and put this behind me and put this behind the team.”
Marisnick took batting practice on the field, like he normally does, before Tuesday's game, but he can’t be around the team once the game starts. He can’t be in the clubhouse or dugout. Hinch said he could sit in the general manager’s box or go back to the team hotel.
• All-Star relief pitcher Ryan Pressly, who has been dealing with a sore knee for a couple weeks, did some early work on the field on Tuesday. His availability for the series in Cleveland remains a question mark.
• Right-hander Brad Peacock (sore shoulder) could throw another bullpen session while the club is in Cleveland. Hinch said he’s progressing well, and it’s unknown if he will need two or three bullpen sessions, as well as whether he’ll need a rehab assignment.